Quick links to recent stories:
No holiday break for struggling Colorado families—and what’s at stake for kids in 2015
Connecting Coloradans to food resources
The Nourish Project: Senior community meal site, menu items transformed
New report: Nearly 1 in 7 Coloradans struggle with hunger
Addressing solutions at Hunger Free Colorado Summit 2014
Colorado gardeners encouraged to donate produce to food pantries
Eight-year-old recognized as 7Everyday Hero
New state tax credit to boost fresh-food donations
Access our archive for past stories worth reading.
Colorado celebrates significant progress in eradicating child hunger
Feb. 27, 2015
There are far fewer young, rumbling bellies today than five years ago, thanks to the Colorado Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. The statewide effort, set forth in late 2009, experienced substantial progress in addressing child hunger through systemic and policy changes, increased awareness, and expanded programs and services. On Feb. 27, Gov. John W. Hickenlooper, Hunger Free Colorado, Share Our Strength and many contributors celebrated the success of the statewide Campaign, a result of strong collaboration and nationally-regarded innovation.
The Colorado Campaign to End Childhood Hunger was launched in November 2009 under the administration of Gov. Bill Ritter and then championed by Gov. Hickenlooper. Both issued Executive Orders—the only governors at the time to initiate such a campaign in the nation—which created a public-private partnership between the Governor’s office, Hunger Free Colorado and Share Our Strength to ensure that all children have access to nutritious food at home, in school and in their communities. The Campaign received broad support from organizations and communities across Colorado—state and county government agencies; foundations; municipalities; nonprofit, community and faith-based organizations; schools and school districts; corporations and local businesses; and countless community members.
“Hunger is an issue that affects our children’s well-being and education, as well as the health of our communities,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “It’s important that all kids are well-fed and prepared to excel, not only in the classroom but in life. This Campaign brought people together to ensure just that, and with the progress made, more kids will have the necessary nutrition to thrive.”
The Campaign achieved many of the 10 goals set forth in the five-year strategic plan, with some far exceeding expectations. Here are some of the key successes:
- 1,499,621 summer meals were provided to Colorado kids and teens in 2014, a 95 percent increase compared to the baseline year of 2009.
- 26,843,074 breakfasts were served in 1,372 participating Colorado schools during school year 2013-14, with more being offered after the school day begins (49 percent increase from school year 2009-10).
- 604 after-school programs provided children with healthy snacks or meals in 2014, nearly a 54 percent increase compared to 2009.
- About 4 of 7 Colorado households eligible for food stamps participate in the program that helps struggling families purchase groceries (68 percent increase from 2009).
- The state streamlined the food stamp application, reducing it from 26 to 8 pages to improve ease of use and increased access for families and individuals.
- Five food banks distributed 20,898,146 pounds of fresh produce to food pantries and those impacted by hunger during 2014, a 49 percent increase compared to 2010.
- 12,450 families participated in nutrition education classes and events hosted by Cooking Matters Colorado during 2014, a 108 percent increase from 2009.
“The Colorado Campaign to End Childhood Hunger not only brought much-needed attention to the problem of child hunger in our state, but it showed that, when people work together, great things can be accomplished,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization. “We all rallied behind a shared vision, and by collectively implementing viable solutions and removing roadblocks to access, we have created a better future for all Colorado kids.”
The Office of Gov. Hickenlooper, Hunger Free Colorado and Share Our Strength thank all who contributed to the Campaign’s success, ensuring more children have sustainable access to needed nutrition.
Dec. 18, 2014
The holiday season is often portrayed as “merry and bright,” but for many Colorado families that’s not the case. When living paycheck to paycheck, a holiday break for families with school-age children leads to additional stress and tough choices like: Do I pay our rent and bills or buy groceries?
It’s estimated that about one in five Colorado kids don’t know when or where they will get their next meal while out of school. Their families struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table, whether due to a job loss, health issue, minimum-wage job or misfortune. School breakfast and lunch help fill nutritional gaps, ensuring that all children are setup for success. Yet, over holiday break, students who eat free and reduced-price meals lose access to that basic nutrition provided during the school day; the fuel needed for their bodies and minds.
Due to this loss, churches and charitable organizations feel the strain around the holiday season, seeing increased need at their food pantries—typically a family’s first line of defense against hunger. But charity alone cannot solve hunger and feed every person. The federal government, along with its state and local counterparts, play an important role in ensuring children, adults and seniors have access to enough food to thrive.
Programs that connect children to school breakfast and lunch, afterschool snacks, and summer meals support their health, behavior and educational performance. Other programs like food stamps serve as an economic bridge, helping families purchase groceries and get back on their feet like the 255,000 Coloradans, including 130,000 children, who were lifted out of poverty due to the safety net between 2009 and 2013.
Clearly, without such programs, more Coloradans would experience hunger and, in turn, create a ripple effect with impacts on individual well-being, education, productivity and our state’s economic health. In 2015 Sen. Cory Gardner, Sen. Michael Bennet and the rest of Congress will consider reauthorization of all child nutrition programs, set to expire in September. They need to be protected and sufficiently funded not only to fuel kids with nutritious food, but to create a better future for all Coloradans.
This holiday break is not a vacation for thousands of families across Colorado, and it’s a shame that so many neighbors may go without and face hunger this holiday season. Food—and nutritious food at that—should be a basic human right. Our Colorado delegates in Congress have the opportunity to strengthen federal nutrition programs in 2015 and beyond, and voters need to voice their support for programs that ensure a healthier, stronger state where no Coloradan goes hungry anytime of the year.
This op-ed is penned by Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, and it was featured in several newspapers across Colorado.
Sign up for our legislative alerts to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the State Capitol and on Capitol Hill. We’ll notify you when lawmakers are considering bills and other proposals that impact the nearly 1 in 7 Coloradans who struggle with hunger, and with our easy-to-use system, you can tell elected officials where you stand on those issues. Visit our online advocacy center for more.
First day shopping with food stamps
Nov. 26, 2014
“People often assume that our first shopping trip would have been demeaning or sad to me. On the contrary, I can’t talk about federal nutrition assistance, or my first experience using it, without smiling,” wrote Dr. Robin Dickinson, a physician, mother, wife and participant of Hunger Through My Lens.
Read the rest of Robin’s story that she contributed to the recent poverty issue of YES! Magazine. Four Hunger Through My Lens participants also shared photos and stories in the magazine to shed light on the reality of hunger.
Nov. 14, 2014
Watch this 9NEWS segment to see how our Hunger Free Hotline connects Colorado families to food resources, as well as hear about hunger in Colorado and what it’s like to shop on a limited food budget.
Kids, dogs walked to end hunger
The Parker Kids’ Club, a self-organized philanthropy group of 21 children, hosted a Halloween dog walk on Oct. 26 to benefit Hunger Free Colorado. The fundraiser, held at Clement Park in Littleton, drew dozens of people and dogs and brought in $400 to help ensure more Coloradans have access to food. View photos from the event.
View photos and read more about the event.
Sept. 3, 2014
One in seven Coloradans and Americans were unsure of when or where they would get their next meal at times during 2013, according to new data released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service in its annual report on food insecurity.
The USDA report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2013, shows that 49 million Americans, including 16 million children across the nation, struggled to put food on the table. In Colorado, the rate of food insecurity was 13.9 percent last year, which is lower than the national average, but matches the three-year average from 2011 to 2013 that is still significantly higher than the 9.7-percent average from 2001 to 2003 prior to the Great Recession.
One in five American households with children (19.5 percent) reported food insecurity, and more than three in five (62 percent) food-insecure households reported receiving assistance from one or more of the major federal nutrition programs during the month prior to the 2013 survey. Those programs include food stamps, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the National School Lunch Program, which provide access to free and reduced-price school meals; and WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children for pregnant women and those with children up to five years old.
“This report underscores the importance of federal nutrition programs in helping individuals get back on their feet and supporting families who struggle due to a health issue, job loss or minimum-wage job,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado. “We need to invest in our state and people, and we can do that by making hunger a priority and strengthening vital programs that fuel better, healthier lives and stronger communities.”
To combat such food insecurity statistics, 200 anti-hunger advocates and community members will gather at the Arvada Center on Sept. 8 for the fourth annual Hunger Free Colorado Summit. Attendees will discuss ideas and solutions that can connect more Coloradans to food resources through systemic, policy and social change.
“Our state has made significant progress in breaking down barriers to food access, but there’s still more work to be done and collaboration is key,” said Underhill. “By fostering more collaboration, sharing best practices and exploring innovative approaches, we can move closer to ensuring no Coloradan goes hungry.”
August 28, 2014
Watch recent media interviews and read recent news stories about the partnership:
- 9NEWS: Donate your extra garden produce to local food pantries (Sept. 4, 2014)
- 7NEWS: Urban gardeners donating portion of harvest to Colorado’s hungry (Sept. 4, 2014)
- CPR: Zucchini overload? Colo. food pantries want your garden’s surplus (Aug. 29, 2014)
September is not only Hunger Awareness Month but also the time when many gardeners find themselves harvesting more food than they can eat. One call is all it takes to connect gardeners with families and individuals in need, thanks to a partnership between Produce for Pantries and Hunger Free Colorado’s statewide hotline, called the Hunger Free Hotline, which connects Coloradans to food resources as well as donation opportunities.
“Collaboration and community engagement is key to ending hunger in our state,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, which runs the Hunger Free Hotline. “Through this partnership, we can ensure more Coloradans have access to fresh foods, helping them lead better, healthier lives and building stronger communities across our state.”
Produce for Pantries, a Denver-based coalition of more than a dozen organizations, addresses hunger in Colorado by encouraging community, school and home gardeners to plant, grow and share produce with those in need via food pantries in their neighborhoods. Hunger Free Colorado leads efforts to connect families and individuals to food and nutrition resources, and to create positive changes in systems, policies and social views, so no Coloradan goes hungry.
Gardeners across the state can find nearby participating food pantries by calling the statewide Hunger Free Hotline toll-free at (855) 855-4626, Monday through Friday.
Coloradans also can take other action during Hunger Awareness Month, whether it be volunteering, educating others or another activity. Learn how you can be a part of the solution.
July 22, 2014
Eight-year-old TJ, founder and president of the self-organized service group, Parker Kids’ Club, recently received KMGH-TV’s 7Everyday Hero Award for his commitment and fundraising support for Hunger Free Colorado.
TJ founded the Parker Kids’ Club in May 2013, with a goal to fundraise and bolster awareness for Hunger Free Colorado because, as he says, “no kid in Colorado should be hungry.” Since then, the club has grown to 21 members and has raised more than $1,760 for Hunger Free Colorado, in addition to increasing community awareness about the issue of hunger.
Their activities over the past year include lemonade and food stands, garage sales, movie nights and a bowl-a-thon, and all of the money raised supports Hunger Free Colorado’s efforts to connect more Colorado families and individuals to food and nutrition resources, as well as to create positive changes in systems, policies and social views, so no Coloradan goes hungry.
TJ has shown that anyone can be a part of the solution at any age and that your actions can help create positive change for those who are struggling to make ends meet. The entire team at Hunger Free Colorado is not only thankful for his support and dedication to an issue that affects so many in our state but also inspired and humbled.
If you want to get involved and take action in your community, join TJ as a Hunger P.O.D. Squad member today!
June 17, 2014
Summer should be a fun and enriching time for all Colorado children, but for many it represents a time when they are at the greatest risk of hunger due to lost access to school meals. A collaborative effort of government agencies, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and school districts focuses on addressing child hunger through a statewide summer food program. This summer, more than 500 community sites across Colorado will provide meals to children up to 18 years old at no cost.
The Summer Food Service Program, funded by the USDA, was established to serve as a nutritional safeguard for children when school is not session. It is administered by the Colorado Department of Education and supported by Hunger Free Colorado, with hundreds of Colorado organizations providing meals in their communities and neighborhoods. Sites such as churches, schools and recreation centers offer free, nutritious breakfasts, lunches and/or suppers that meet federal nutrition guidelines, as well as fun, engaging activities for children. There are no income or registration requirements for participation.
“All children should have access to the fuel needed for healthy lives, so they can thrive in and out of school,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger advocacy organization. “It’s estimated one in five Colorado kids experience hunger, but programs like this one serve to ensure fewer kids go hungry. It fills a nutritional gap and helps families stretch their food budgets farther.”
Last year more than 1.34 million summer meals were served to Colorado kids and teens, almost double compared to summer 2009.
May 30, 2014
Now, more Colorado families will gain additional access to healthy, local foods. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act today at Adobe House Farm in Durango, Colo., surrounded by ranchers, farmers, emergency food providers and community members.
“Durango is a great place to celebrate the signing of this new tax credit that will positively impact Colorado ranchers and farmers, many who are already supporting their communities, as well as our state’s residents,” said Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango, one of the bill sponsors.
House Bill 14-1119 advanced from the House of Representatives and Senate, with widespread support under the dome and in Colorado communities. The 25-percent tax credit will go into effect January 2015 and be offered to local producers who donate excess foods to Colorado food banks and pantries.
“The Act is an investment in our neighbors, communities and state,” said lead bill sponsor, Rep. Mike McLachlan of Durango. “The Colorado legislature recognized that, and now a new tax credit will benefit our state’s agriculture community, emergency food providers and those experiencing hunger.”
The Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act not only will increase fresh-food donations from local producers but provide struggling Coloradans with additional access to fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat products. It’s estimated that nearly one in six Coloradans face a time when there is not enough money to buy food.
“We’re all at our best when we have enough to eat; yet, too many children, seniors and families struggle to get the fuel needed for better, healthier lives and stronger communities,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization. “The new tax credit means more Coloradans will be able to access needed nutrition through local food.”
Hunger Free Colorado and Feeding Colorado—Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Community Food Share, Food Bank for Larimer County, Food Bank of the Rockies and Weld Food Bank—served as lead supporters for this legislation, along with support from the Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Nonprofit Association, CSU-Extension, LiveWell Colorado and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. The bill was sponsored by Rep. McLachlan (D-Durango), Sen. Hodge (D-Brighton) and Sen. Roberts (R-Durango), and co-sponsored by Rep. Dore (R-Elizabeth).
“Passing the Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act to help our agricultural industry provide additional food for the hungry is a ‘win-win’ for our entire community,” said Jim Baldwin, president of Feeding Colorado, the originating sponsor of the legislation. “Feeding Colorado is grateful for the bipartisan support of this bill and excited to be able to distribute more farm-fresh food through our programs and partner agencies.”